Sunday, December 16, 2018

What can we learn from the Genealogy of Jesus Christ?

"The Genealogy of Jesus. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham........
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 1, 16).

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David is the plan built on rock, the rock of God's unalterable faithfulness to redeem mankind.  The record of the ancestry of Jesus shows us who God is and how He works in history.

Some years ago, I had weekly discussions with three young Mormon missionaries.  I asked them why they think the world needs a Mormon Church when the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself has been there from the beginning of the new age. "The Church apostasied. Emperor Constantine led the Church astray. So God decided to start all over."  Really? I asked.  Then what is the meaning of the Genealogy? At this point, I asked one of the young men to read the Genealogy in Matthew 1.  I interrupted to point out scores of deviant personalities:  murderer, thieves, prostitute, idol worshippers, etc.  Why did the Holy Spirit allow the Genealogy to end with  "Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 1, 16).
They had no answer.
God had decreed that the Redeemer will come out of real humanity.

“The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11: 26 - 27).

"In respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."  (Romans 11: 28 - 29).

Again: "The gift and the call of God are irrevocable." Amen!

The Church teaches that it will arrive at its perfection in the Escathon, the End of the age.  As we make our pilgrimage towards our home, the Church labors to grow in the fullness of truth and charity.  Each life committed to Christ hastens the Second Coming.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Be satisfied with your wages.

"The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?”
He said to some in reply:....
"Be satisfied with your wages.”  (Luke 3: 10, 14).

What you have here is Good News to rejoice your heart and bring you peace on the subject of money.  Let us try to unpack it by stepping aside and allow Scripture to speak.

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

Do you trust that God will fully provide for you come what may? If you do, you should live in the truth below:

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."   (Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

The word of God has warnings for the lover of money:

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income."  (Ecclesiastes 5: 10 NIV).

What does it profit you to be a billionaire at the cost of losing eternal life?

"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains." (1 Timothy 6: 10).

Because the Lord always provides for His own, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near." (Philippians 4: 4 - 5).

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lead me. Guide me. Teach me.

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.  If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea."  (Isaiah 48: 17 - 18).

O Lord, my Redeemer and Savior, lead me, guide me and teach me.  I have wandered most of my life and learned nothing useful. Now I want to be docile to You.  I will bend my heart to your commandments. I desire your promised prosperity.
You promised that those who follow you will have the light of life.  Yes Lord, I will follow you.

You promised that those who delight in Your word will be like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever they do, prosper.  Lord God, I delight in Your word, let it be done to me according to Your word. Amen. Amen. Amen.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Some men are born great. Some achieve greatness.

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist." 
(Matthew 11: 11).

John the Baptist like the Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen from the womb and sanctified for his lofty ministry.  Son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, John had a comfortable career lined up for him by inheritance.  He did not allow this to distract him from his predestined vocation:  "Prepare the way of the Lord."  Speaking of "distraction", why did John chose the lifestyle he embraced? He lived in the desert, cultivated his food, made his clothes, etc.  St John the Baptist saw his mission as unique and critical to the success of the Mission of the Redeemer.  For him, no compromise, no distraction would be tolerated.

As we head to the last two weeks of Advent, let us savor the consolation of the Scriptures from the first Reading today.

"I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah 41: 13 - 14).

Our gracious and merciful God kept this promise to John the Baptizer to the very end of his life.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

They will be my people.

"Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the Lord.  Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." (Zechariah 2: 14 - 16).

The Scripture above from the Prophet Zechariah seems made for the feast we celebrate today in the Church in the Americas:  Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.  The Blessed Virgin Mary was sent by her Son to evangelize the people of Mexico. She appeared to St Juan Diego in 1531.  From this encounter, several millions were baptized in a few years. The Mexicans renounced human sacrifice. They became evangelists of the faith all over S. America and the United States of America.

Incredible fulfillment of what Zechariah wrote:  "Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." (Zechariah 2: 14 - 16).

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City attracts millions of pilgrims yearly.  Pilgrimage to this Shrine is one of my wishlist. I have a consolation price however. I visited a replica of the Shrine in Port Arthur, Texas some years ago.  Two pictures from that visit  hang on my wall.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."  (Luke 1: 30 - 31).

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Jesus rejoices over one repentant sinner.

"What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray..... And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."  (Matthew 18: 12 - 14).

Heaven rejoices over one repentant sinner.  In Heaven,  Every vote for Jesus counts.  Sadly, I did not figure this out.

Many years ago, I was asked to teach Young Adults Confirmation Class.  I prepared assiduously for it for a couple of months.  On the first day of class, I was excited.  Then the surprise.  There was just one candidate.  I engaged the young man for the the planned two hours.  I had taught the same class for some years. Why was I not told that there would be only one candidate.
To make a long story short, I told the director that I could not continue.

A couple of Sunday after this, a lady met me after Mass and said:  "I am Patrick's mother. I worked so hard to persuade my son to attend the Confirmation class. Now it is all for nothing."

Some time after this, I heard the reproach of the Master Himself from the Altar:  "In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!"  (Luke 15: 7).

I confessed my sin and promised Jesus that in future, I will teach just one person, minister to one person. If every vote counts for the politician, and every dollar for the merchant, one soul should count for me.

"Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated."  (Isaiah 40: 1).

Send Your Holy Spirit upon us O Lord to give us the courage to spread the Good News of Your burning love for us.  Amen.

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

As for you, your sins are forgiven.

“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”  (Luke 15: 20).

Before Jesus healed the paralytic man who was lowered from the roof, He forgave his sins.  The healing of the paralytic is part of the healing ministry of Jesus which we read in the first Reading today:

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.  (Isaiah 35: 5 - 6).

The Readings today are meant to prepare our hearts for Advent and the joys of Christmas.

"It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk."  (Isaiah 35: 9 - 10).

A good examination of conscience and Reconciliation can bring healing to our minds, souls and hopefully body and deliver peace and joy for Christmas and beyond.

"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations; declare it to the distant lands:
Behold, our Savior will come; you need no longer fear."  (Cf. Jeremiah 31: 10; Isaiah 35: 4).

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Prepare your heart for the Lord.

"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1: 6).

This Sunday, we reflect a bit on the profile of a true and faithful witness. This person was called to ministry before the foundation of the world, sanctified in the womb, preserved from the corruption of society and at the right moment paid the full price for his calling. His name is John the Baptist.  God who began a good work in John was faithful and brought it to a splendid completion.  May the ever faithful God bring the good work He started in you and me to an excellent completion.

"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths"  (Luke 3: 4).

Brothers and sisters, this is the holy task laid before us this Advent.  Although today is the second Week of Advent, it is not too late to get on board.
How do you prepare the way of the Lord? Exactly the way you prepare yourself for the Coming of Jesus:  Increased prayer, more word of God, more Eucharist during the week.  Good examination of conscience and Reconciliation are of paramount importance.  A house that is untidy and smelly is a gross insult to the King of kings.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves."  (Psalm 126: 5 - 6).
Those who prepare the way of the Lord by preparing their hearts will be surprised by the delights of the Lord and will sing:
"The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126: 2 - 3).

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Friday, December 07, 2018

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Ephesians 1: 3 - 4).

Mary was chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish as the Mother of the Son of God.
The Church all over the world rejoice with Mary on the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception, today December 8th.

When the Archangel Gabriel told Mary the astonishing news of the Incarnation, she said:  “How can this be..... And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you... "  (Luke 1: 34 - 35).  No problem said Gabriel. The Holy Spirit will do the job.  I will like to remember this whenever God is asking me to do what I consider impossible.  God also hastened to reassure Mary and strengthen her faith:

"Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;  for nothing will be impossible for God.”  (Luke 1: 36 - 37).

Do you notice:  "nothing will be impossible for God?” This is a word of God we should never forget.

I like Mary's humble response:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”   (Luke 1: 38).

Let us join the Choir of Heaven and  "Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done marvelous deeds" for us in Mary. (Psalm 98: 1).

Our God has indeed done great things for Mary.
"He has clothed her with a robe of salvation, and wrapped her in a mantle of righteousness, like a bride adorned with her jewels."  (Cf Isaiah 61: 10).

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Lord increase our faith.

"On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a scroll; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.  The lowly shall again find joy in the Lord, the poorest rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah 29: 18 -19).

This is a fitting Scripture to honor the life of a big man whose feast we celebrate today:  St Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (337 - 397). The Lord filled St Ambrose with the spirit of wisdom and understanding and clothed him in a robe of glory. St Ambrose used his immense talent to shine the light of Christ on many souls. One of these souls is St Augustine whose mother, St Monica convinced to meet St Ambrose. The rest is history so to speak.

"And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!”  (Matthew 9: 27).
Never forget that man's necessity is God's opportunity. These two blind men who have hanged out together for some time probably discussed what it would be like to meet this Jesus. Then without warning, it happened.

“Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him."  (Matthew 9: 28).
Sometimes the Lord gives this little test. These two blind friends were ready with the answer.

"Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”  (Matthew 9: 29).

Note carefully what Jesus said to them: “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
An Advent prayer intention could be:  Lord increase my faith.

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

December 7th, 2018  -  First Friday in December.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 12th and last month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #12.

#12. "The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour."

Friends, this is a tremendous promise. Let us thank our Lord Jesus Christ for such a generous offer.  I was once close to death.  My priest came and brought the healing Presence of Jesus in the Last Sacraments.  Whenever I think of Promise #12, I remember that awesome occasion and privilege.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Where and how do you build your family home?

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock."  (Matthew 7: 24 - 25).

Any architect, building contractor, surveyor would hail the above divine word as absolute truth and common sense.  When I visited a small town near Corpus Christi after a huge hurricane, I realized that common sense is not so common.  There are still many who built their houses on "sand" and expect them to survive hurricanes and cyclones.  The real point of the teaching of Jesus today is about the choices we make that affect our eternal destiny.  In today's Mass Readings, there are no shortage of good advice to help us. Let us sample a few:

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes." (Psalm 118:  8 - 9).

"A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”  (Isaiah 26:  3).
You can substitute man or woman.

"Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock."  (Isaiah 26: 4).
When you build your life on the Rock that is Jesus, your life will be safe, solid and secure.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near." (Isaiah 55: 6).
That means Today. You are not guaranteed Tomorrow.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." 
(Matthew 7: 21).
God does not deceive any person and He cannot be deceived. Don't even try it!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

What will the Lord provide on this Mountain?

"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines."  (Isaiah 25: 6).

We see spectacular promises of what awaits us in the New Heaven and the New Earth which in the Gospel is understood as the Kingdom of God in its fullness. The Mountain of the Lord of Hosts will provide rich food and choice wines to the guests.  But there is more:

"He will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken."  (Isaiah 25: 8).

On the Mountain in today's Gospel, Jesus cured the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. (Matthew 15: 30).  Signs pointing to the Messianic Kingdom.

"On the same Mountain, "[Jesus] took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full."  (Matthew 15: 37).  One more Messianic Sign.

The rich food and choice wines of Isaiah and the baskets of bread and fish are types of the Eucharist which will provide sufficient and super satisfying nourishment in the Kingdom of God.

Does this vision seem unrealistic? Not at all! God will fulfill all His promises as Isaiah declared below:

"On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain."  (Isaiah 25:  9 - 10).

Trust in God forever!

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Monday, December 03, 2018

It is the Father's gracious will to give you a magnificent Kingdom.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike." (Luke 10: 21).

Abba Father has revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom to the childlike. What are these mysteries?  Since Jesus spoke incessantly about the Kingdom of God in His public ministry, may be these mysteries have to do with the inner workings of the Kingdom.

What do we know about the Kingdom?  The Kingdom is already here and now. The seed of the Kingdom is in the Church.  Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe and we know His Kingdom is everlasting.  Citizens of that Kingdom will be anointed by the Spirit of the LORD: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and all shall delight in the fear of the Lord.

We know too that in that Kingdom, there will be no death, sickness, wars, hunger, any type of weather catastrophes, etc.  Isaiah captures the perfect peace and serenity that will permeate life in the future Kingdom in these verses:

"Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the viper’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
(Isaiah 11: 6 - 10).

When you pray "Thy Kingdom Come!" you understand that
Yes, it is the Father's  gracious will to give us such a wonderful Kingdom.  (Cf Luke 10: 21).

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Go preach the Gospel to all the World.

"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."  (John 15: 16).

Today is the feast of St Francis Xavier (1506 - 1552). St Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus with St Francis Xavier.  Francis heard Jesus calling him through St Ignatius and appointing him to go and bear fruit that will last through St Ignatius. His response to Jesus was most generous.

"I will bear witness to You in the world O Lord.  I will spread the knowledge of Your name among my brothers and sisters.  (Psalm 17: 50 ; 21:23 RM).

St Francis traveled to India, Japan and China out of longing for the salvation of souls.  He converted hundreds of thousands of people to Jesus.

Jesus is still calling today:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." 
(Mark 16: 15).

The Internet and smartphone have made it easy today for everyone to respond to the call of Jesus from your home, work, bus, train, plane. In the park, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

If you do not create contents like blogs or articles, you can distribute contents. How? You receive a daily scripture verse, you share it with friends, family or co-workers via text, email or Facebook or any of the Social media.  Imagine if your friend shares the same scripture verse with one friend.  In 365 days, you may have enabled over 1000 people to read Scripture and become Internet missionaries.  It is not difficult at all. All you need is to say Yes to Jesus.

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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Enter into the spirit of Advent with hope.

"The days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah."  Jeremiah 33: 14).

As Advent begins today, let us give some thought to the concept of Waiting and God's Faithfulness.  What have you waited for in your life?  What are you waiting for now?   Use the Scripture from Lamentations below to enter into the spirit of Advent.

"The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning — great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.

The Lord is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the Lord’s deliverance." 
(Lamentations 3: 22 - 26).

To hope in the Lord is to wait for the Lord.

I hope your heart will be warmed by the truth that God fulfills His promises in the fullness of time.

As we wait with expectant faith for God to fulfill His promises to us, we do well to take note of obstacles and barriers that may stand in our way.

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

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Friday, November 30, 2018

What are your plans for Advent?

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

Today is the last day before Advent, the beginning of the New Year of the Church.  What is the above Scripture saying to me?  Be careful not to spend the next four weeks before Christmas like the Unredeemed. Parties, shopping, games, etc.  If you do, you will miss out on a lot of graces that Jesus Christ has prepared for you this Advent.

You ask: What should I do?

"Be vigilant that you may have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent." 
(Luke 21: 34 - 36).

"Be vigilant" means: Be alert and watchful through prayer, worship, songs and praises like someone waiting for the arrival of a very important guest.

"Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22: 20).

“These words are trustworthy and true, and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits, sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”  (Revelation 22: 6 - 7).

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Go bring someone to Jesus.

"Beside the Sea of Galilee,
the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he said to them: Come after me and I will make you fishers of men."  (Cf. Matthew 4: 18-19).

Today is the feast of St Andrew the Apostle.  One of his biographers describes St Andrew thus:
"Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion."  This is the ultimate accolade.  Sacred Scripture puts it this way:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”  (Romans 10: 15).

Indeed!
“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” 
(Romans 10: 18).

Jesus may be calling you today to be an Evangelist. Andrew, Simon Peter and the rest of the Apostles have sown the seed. It is up to us to finish the harvesting:

"And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10: 14 - 15).

Go bring your brother, cousin, neighbor, friend, colleague to Jesus as Andrew did:
"Andrew told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus."  (Cf. John 1: 41-42).

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb is the Eucharist.

"Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 19: 9).

3 days to go before the beginning of Advent.  The Readings are frightful, urgent and escathological, pointing us to the end of the world. In the midst of the grim scenario, we receive a blessing and a hope:
"Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

The wedding feast of the Lamb is understood by Church militants here on earth as the Eucharist.  We come to this feast by summons or invitation.  Those who receive the invitation of the King to the Eucharist and turn it down with scorn will miss the blessings pronounced in Revelation 19: 9.

Those who cling to deceitful attractions and distractions of the world are warned of what will happen to their beloved kingdom:

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.  She has become a haunt for demons.  She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast.”  (Revelation 18: 2).

What do you think of this warning of Jesus?
"Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."  (Cf Luke 21:20-28).

The Redeemed marked by the sign of the Lamb are encouraged to:
"Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy. Know that he, the Lord, is God. He made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the sheep of his flock."

Advent is the Season of expectation, praise and singing. Let us not hold back. Our Redeemer is coming.  He will redeem us from these dire predictions.

"O praise the Lord, all you nations, for his merciful love towards us is great.  (Psalm 117: 1, 2).

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Join the army of martyrs.

"Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you... because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony."  (Luke 21: 12, 13).

Is your faith growing? Are you persevering in daily prayer, Reconciliation, Eucharist and works of mercy?  If your answer is Yes, then your faith is growing.  Your faith will be tested so that it becomes mature and bear fruit.  The branch that shows potential will be pruned.
You may consider your pruning season a very severe trial.  But be comforted by this truth:  "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."

One thing to remember in your period of trial is to be steadfast and constant in your determination not to give up.  At the end of every year, many people make New Year Resolutions.  The person that succeeds in forming the precious new habit is the one that breaks the resolution many times and refuses to give up.  He starts all over again. He or she is the one who will smile at the end of the year.  "By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  (Luke 21: 19).

Join the army of martyrs (witnesses) by resolving today through your daily witness to the power of God to shock the conscience of the unbelievers.
How many years will the Lord require you to witness? The secret is to take one day at a time as if that day is your last.

"Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2: 10).

And never forget this priceless promise:
"Behold, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age, says the Lord."  (Matthew 28: 20).

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Remain faithful until death.

"Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2: 10).

As we listen to the End Times Scriptures from Revelation and Luke, it cannot be exaggerated that the counsel to persevere in the Christian life is the most important message today. In a culture of dictatorship of relativism, nothing is sacred anymore.  Not the vow to stick to marriage vows "till death do us part."  Not the perpetual vows of the priests and those in Consecrated life. Not the civil contract between the governed and the governors. We cannot forget that God loves constancy and faithfulness because faithfulness is the essence of who He is.

Although the Lord will come to judge the earth as Scripture teaches, we can never forget that God is full of mercy and always "speaks of peace to his people and his holy ones
and to those who turn to him." (Cf Psalm 85: 9).

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Who shall see the face of the Lord?

"Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come." 
(Matthew 24: 42, 44).

We are in the last week of the Church Year. One week to go. Does it occur to you that these may be the last days on earth for some people?  The message of the Holy Spirit to the Churches these days are urgent and simple:  "Stay awake!  For you do not know when the Son of Man will come."  (Matthew 24: 42, 44).

How much do you long to see the face of the Lord?   (Cf Psalm 24: 6).

But "Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? Or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain."  (Psalm 24: 3-4).

Sacred Scripture continues in Revelation 14 to refine the profiles of men and women who desire to see the face of the Lord and pray with constancy and sincerity: "Thy Kingdom come!"

"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished."  (Revelation 14:  4 - 5).

As we wait with eager hearts for the coming of the Lord, we are comforted by this unshakable truth of Sacred Scripture:
"Behold, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age, says the Lord."  (Matthew 28: 20).

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Celebrate the Solemnity of Christ Our King.

 “My kingdom does not belong to this world."  (John 18: 36).

This Sunday is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  It is logical that our key Scripture for today asks the question to Jesus:  If Your Kingdom does not belong to this world, where does it belong?

The answer to the question takes us to the magnificent obsession of Jesus throughout His public ministry:  the King and the Kingdom.  What are the characteristics of the King and His Kingdom?

According to Daniel, the King who receives dominion, splendor and power will be an everlasting King.  "All nations, peoples and tongues will serve him." His reign and His Kingdom will enjoy everlasting security. (Cf Daniel 7: 13 - 14).

But the King who stood before Pontius Pilate as a prisoner is the Son of the lowly Virgin of Nazareth, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor,
sent to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free."  (Cf Luke 4: 18).
Jesus Christ our King reigns from the Cross. This is the mysterious truth Pilate could not understand. (Cf John 18: 37).
The Ruler of the kings of the earth will inaugurate His Kingdom from the Cross. (Revelation 1: 5).

Our King is the Prince of Peace!

"The Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will bless his people with peace."  (Psalm 29: 10-11).

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Where are all the martyrs that died for Christ?

"They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."  (Luke 20: 36).

Today's Scripture Readings by a peculiar arrangement of Divine Providence correspond to the feast of today.  Today is the feast of St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions.  St Andrew, a Vietnamese priest was martyred in 1839 along with 117 others, 96 of whom were Vietnamese. Has any other religion the same experience of martyrdom as the Christian faith?  In other words, why is it easier for Christians to accept martyrdom?  Because of the hope of Resurrection!  Christians know that death is not the end of their life.

"Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death, and brought life to light through the Gospel." 
(2 Timothy 1: 10).

Just as death of Jesus Christ happened according to the plan and foreknowledge of God so was it for the Vietnamese martyrs and every martyr throughout history.  In his vision, John testified that the 2 martyrs were allowed to complete their appointed work before God allowed them to be killed.

"When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them." 
(Revelation 11: 7).

Brothers and sisters, millions of Christians have laid down their lives for Christ.  Do not be unbelieving and think it was in vain.  "May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved." 
(Cf. Galatians 6: 14; cf. 1 Corinthians 1: 18).

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5: 10).
This is true and faithful word.

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Promises of God and the Joy of Answered Prayer.

"How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119: 103).

Many years ago, after I moved to a new parish, I found myself one Saturday morning in a Bible Study group. The pastor was the teacher.  "What is the most important concept in Sacred Scripture?" He asked. Many answers were proffered.  When it came to my turn, I said: "Promises."  For better or worse, Promise has been my key to understanding and applying the Sacred Text to my life. As years go by, God's promises become sweeter and sweeter to me.  Often in my prayers, I play a little chess game with God.  I raise my hands up and say:  "What I am asking for is what You promised. What I am waiting for is what You promised."  Then I make a sweet surrender of the request as to how and when of it to God.

I believe firmly that:
"The law of your mouth is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold."  (Psalm 119: 72).
All the heroes of the Bible fed exclusively on the word of God.

Here are a few Scriptures that have sustained my life in mortal spiritual warfare:

"God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble."  (Psalm 46: 1 AMP).

"Never forget your promises to me your servant, for they are my only hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!" (Psalm 119: 49 - 50 TLB).

“If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Acts 5: 38 - 39).
Are you discerning the viability of a project? This may be your Scripture.

"Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!"  (Psalm 27: 14).

The summary of what Sacred Scripture does for me in times of spiritual desolation and warfare is below:

1.  If God is with you, it is accomplished.  No matter the obstacles, delays,
disappointments or personal weaknesses.
2.  No fear. No worry. No doubt as long as the Lord is with you. 
3.  God will finish what He started. (Exodus 14: 13-14; Isaiah 13: 15; 2 Chronicles 20: 15;  Philippians 1: 6)
4. "The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need." (Psalm 23:1).
 5. "I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me." (Philippians 4: 13).

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Do you know what makes for peace?

“If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes."  (Luke 19: 42).

Jesus wept before He said the above words.  At this point in His public ministry, He had labored for three years teaching by words and examples the truth and the ways of God.  He taught them the 8 Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3 - 12).  The Beatitudes is the Magna Carta for the New World Order that Jesus Christ calls the Kingdom of God.  Unfortunately, Jerusalem over which Christ shed tears ignored His teachings and warnings thereby making the prophecy below inevitable in 70 AD.

"They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  (Luke 19:  44).

How can we repay the Lord for all His goodness to us, especially for His crucifixion, Resurrection and the Church? Let us aspire to join the Choirs of Heaven and sing Him a new song:

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.” 
(Revelation 5: 9 - 10).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we thank You Lord Jesus for the prosperity and peace You have given us.  Help us by Your grace to be mindful of the poor, the homeless and the immigrants in our midst.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What have you done with the talent entrusted to you?

“A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return."  (Luke 19: 12).

This is how Jesus started the a parable that is called the Parable of the 10 Gold Coins. 
His fellow citizens rejected the nobleman and his kingship. When he had obtained his crown and returned home, there was reckoning for everyone.  Each person has to answer a simple question:  how did you use the Time, Talent and Treasure that was entrusted to you? Some showed profit on their investment while others failed completely and blamed their Master for their failure.  Those who showed profit were rewarded while those who failed were punished and lost everything.  Jesus then concluded by saying:
"I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  (Luke 19: 26).

"I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord."  (Cf John 15: 16).

Jesus was rejected as our King during His earthly life, a rejection that has continued till today in many quarters.  But soon we shall see Jesus glorified and see the Court of Heaven honor Him.

“Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.”  (Revelation 4: 11).

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Is God training you as a daughter or a son?

"Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise."  (Revelation 3: 19).

Years ago at the beginning of my conversion, everything I held dear came crashing down at once.  I was bewildered because I thought I heard Jesus say to me:  “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” I came down quickly and received him with joy."  (Luke 19: 5 - 6).

I remained in a state of material and spiritual desolation for months until one Sunday in August, the Lord took pity on me and spoke to me directly from the Sanctuary during the Liturgy of the Word. This is what I heard: "Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" 
(Hebrews 12: 7).   This gift of Understanding of this particular word of God to me transformed my Desert Experience, which by the way lasted for more than five years. I knew my trials and tribulations had a purpose: God was training me as a son.  Are you in the Desert? Is God training you as a daughter or a son?  Do not quit. The reward will be unbelievable.

“The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels."  (Revelation 3: 5).

Do not be Lukewarm but be very enthusiastic like Zacchaeus so that you may not hear this reproach:
"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
(Revelation 3: 16).

Be ready at all times to open the door for Jesus at the first knock:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3: 20).

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Jesus is passing by.

"They told [Bartimaeus], “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”  (Luke 18:  37 - 38).

A year ago, I attended the Pre-Advent Mission at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Mission Preacher used the Gospel of today (Mark 13: 24 - 32).  It is without doubt one of the most impactful Advent Mission I have ever experienced. What did I learn?

#1. Jesus may be passing by you every day. Could be at Mass, work, grocery store, hospital, gas station, etc. Are you alert? Are you prepared to engage him like Bartimaeus?

#2.  "Jesus asked Bartimaeus,  “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”  (Luke 18: 41).

Have you prayed and discerned your greatest need?  It will be unforgivable to miss such lifetime opportunity.

#3. "Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”  He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. (Luke 18: 42 - 43).

I like this fellow Bartimaeus a lot.  He seems to know what to do in every moment.  I depend constantly on inspiration and power to know how to react in sudden and surprising situations.  If you are like me, befriend the Holy Spirit and ask Him always to give you the inspiration and power you need.

#4.  "To be near God is my happiness, to place my hope in God the Lord." (Psalm 73 : 28).

Bartimaeus had desired and prayed to be near God, he got his chance today.

#5. "Amen, I say to you: Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive, and it shall be given to you, says the Lord."  (Mark 11: 23 - 24).

Bartimaeus is a man of deep faith and prayer.  You can be the same. ASK: Ask. Seek. Knock. And Receive!

#6.  "Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near."  (Revelation 1: 3).

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

My words will not pass away.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."  (Mark 13: 31).

As we enter the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, we notice that the emphasis of the Readings from the Holy Scriptures has shifted to the End Times. This world is not our permanent residence. One day, the world will end. But before that, we are invited to consider our own individual end and face to face meeting with the One who is called "The Faithful and True Witness."  (Revelation 3: 14).

Let us capture some quotes from today's Sacred Scriptures.  Can you trust Jesus who is "The Yes and Amen" (2 Corinthians 1: 20)?  I hope these Scriptures will boost your faith in the unfailing promises of Jesus Christ.

#1.  "The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction.
You will call upon me, and I will answer you." 
(Jeremiah 29: 11, 12, 14).

#2.  "But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”  (Daniel 12: 3).

#3. "O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot. I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed."  (Psalm 16: 5).

#4.  "Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength to stand before the Son of Man."  (Luke 21: 36).

#5.  "And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory,  and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky."  (Mark 13: 26 - 27).

#6.  "To be near God is my happiness, to place my hope in God the Lord."  (Psalm 73: 28).

#7.  "Amen, I say to you: Whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you will receive,
and it shall be given to you, says the Lord."  (Mark 11: 23 - 24).

Brothers and sisters, I hope this Buffet of Sacred Writings will warm your heart this Sunday and propel you to seek the prize of everlasting happiness.

"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
(Revelation 22: 20).

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Friday, November 16, 2018

The Persistent Widow floors the corrupt Judge.

"Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary."  (Luke 18: 1).

This first line of the Parable of the Persistent Widow teaches us to build our understanding and faith in Prayer:

#1.  Prayer is a vital necessity.
#2.  We must persevere in Prayer.
#3. Prayer must be made always.

Why is Prayer a vital necessity?  Prayer is a vital and absolute necessity because it is God's ordained means for the flow of grace and mercy.

Why must we perservere in Prayer? Nothing happens in God's universe until the fullness of time ordained by God.  So there is absolute necessity to wait for God's time.  I like the rendition of Romans 8: 24 - 25 by the MSG. 

"That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a  mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."  (Romans 8: 24 - 25 MSG).

Our waiting is not in vain as explains St Augustine:
"God grants us not always what we ask so as to bestow something preferable."..... “The desire is thy prayers; and if thy desire is without ceasing, thy prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.”   (St Augustine).

This may well be the raison d'etre for Novena.  The disciples of Jesus made the first Novena waiting for the the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers."  (Acts 1: 14).

Do you know how to pray without ceasing? (1 Thessalonians 5: 17).  Then learn the Jesus Prayer. What is the Jesus Prayer?  Simply the Name of Jesus.  "Jesus" is a complete prayer. You can say it constantly. Jesus, Yeshua means Savior.  It signifies what it means and affects what it signifies when uttered with faith.  It is a very powerful Prayer.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Let go and live!

"Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it." (Luke 17: 33).

When you deny yourself anything, you lose your life a little.  The Church encourages us during Lent and in a lesser degree in the Advent Season to lose our life a little through Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. As we do this, we recall the example of Jesus:
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."  (John 15: 13).

"Jesus said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."  (Luke 9: 23 - 24).

How might you respond?

"I let go of my desire for security." 
"I let go of my desire for affection ."
"I let go of my desire for control ."
"I let go of my desire to change the situation ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect health ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect family harmony ."
"I let go of my desire for the perfect job."

I let go and live!!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Is the Kingdom of God truly among us?

"The Kingdom of God is among you.”  (Luke 17: 21).

What did you hear and see when you accompanied Jesus, Peter, James and John to the Mountain of Transfiguration?  I saw the Apostles sleeping and suddenly a booming voice rang out and everybody was suddenly alert.  The voice of the Father said:  "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him." (Matthew 17: 5).
Jesus looking at me said: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."  (Matthew 6: 33).

"Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come..."  (Luke 17: 20).
The Kingdom of God is already here and now but will be ushered in its fullest splendor in the Second Coming of Jesus.
I objected that what is proclaimed as the Kingdom and as already among us and what I see with my 2 eyes does not look like a Kingdom at all.   An Angel whispered to me: "You do not apprehend the Kingdom by sight or by feeling but by Faith."  I thought for a minute and exclaimed:  "I now understand!"  I am absolutely sure the Holy Spirit is in me. I do not see Him and sometimes do not even experience His activities in me.  I know that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist but I am sometimes distracted after receiving Him.  So not by sight or feeling but by faith. Thank You Jesus.

"The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia."  (Psalm 146: 10).
"But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation."  (Luke 17:  25).
Lord help us to walk by faith and not by sight or feeling.

Today is the feast of St Albert the Great:  (1206 - 1280). Dominican priest, Bishop, first class scientist, Doctor of the Church and teacher of St Thomas Aquinas.  God made Bishop St Albert great by his joining of human wisdom to divine faith.

St Albert the Great pray for us.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A word about Thanksgiving.

“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” (Luke 17: 13).

The story of the Cleansing of the 10 Lepers is rich in lessons of God's great mercy and our response and gratitude for mercy.

“Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?" 
(Luke 17: 17).

The other nine did not come back to give thanks.  Why? They had more pressing agenda. When they were done with them, they would come back and give thanks to the Master.  But Jesus did not stay to wait for them to return at their convenience and render thanks.  To the one who came back, Jesus says to him:
“Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  (Luke 17:  19).

And so is fulfilled this word of God:  "Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."  (Matthew 13: 12).

Let us turn to the 9 cleansed and ungrateful lepers for a moment. Why did they miss out on the more enduring and lasting effects of the healing of Jesus? Consider the clue from the first Reading from Titus:  "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another." (Titus 3: 3).

The Scripture says that you and I are exactly like the 9 cleansed and ungrateful lepers.  Count your blessings and make a list of them.  Count your thanksgiving and make a list of them. Which list is longer?

Now decide to mend your ways and resolve:
"In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 
(1 Thessalonians 5: 18)

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Monday, November 12, 2018

There is no chaos in our destiny.

"Take delight in the LORD, and he will grant you your heart’s requests."  (Psalm 37: 4).

Why do I love the above Scripture so much?  The promise fulfills my deepest desires.  I know and believe today that God knows exactly what I need and when I need it. In the past I wasn't so sure of this. I know too that God Never Fails!

A few months ago, I recorded the landmarks in my life starting from the age of 3 upto today and made a Timeline spanning several decades.  I was astonished.  I see today a remarkable order in what I had seen as chaos all over the place.  Are you familiar with the Chaos Theory?  In brief, there is No Chaos in our destiny. Everything is Providence!  I did not notice this Providence working in my life but it was there in every moment and every step I took.
Paul put it this way in the first Reading from Titus:  "For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age."  (Titus 2: 11 - 12).  And John the Divine says:  "Whenever our conscience condemns us, we will be reassured that God is greater than our conscience and knows everything." (1 John 1: 20). 

So brothers and sisters,
"Trust in the LORD and do good, that you may dwell in the land and be fed in security." 
(Psalm 37: 3).

Today is the feast of St Frances Xavier Cabrini, Apostle of poor immigrants. She will be shocked at the hostility to immigrants by children of poor immigrants.  St Frances Xavier Cabrini pray for us.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Lord increase our faith.

“Increase our faith.” (Luke 17: 5).

The Apostles pleaded with Jesus. Watching Jesus teach, pray and perform miracles, they were able to isolate the key difference between them and the Master:  FAITH!  That is the missing ingredient.

What is faith?  The Letter to the Hebrews defines faith as:  "Confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11: 1).

A common man's definition might go like this:  Faith is absolute confidence in the promises of God in the Divine Scriptures.  The one who shows such confidence knows that God Never Fails!

The type of faith that the Apostles saw in Jesus in His public ministry is exactly the same type of faith that distinguished the heavy weights in Israel's history.
"This is what the ancients were commended for."  (Hebrews 11: 2).  Then follows a long list of Who is Who in the history of Israel concluding with... "These were all commended for their faith."  (Hebrews 11: 39).

The Apostles understood clearly that without this magic ingredient of Faith added to their character, they would end up as mediocres or as nothing.

“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” 
(Luke 17:  6).

Why is faith crucial for living the Christian life?

"For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith."  (1 John 5: 4).

Do you know that we are in the state of constant spiritual warfare?  Every one of us?  Most of the trials you face are instances of this struggle.
"These  trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."  (1 Peter 1: 7).

Therefore, stand firm and fight valiantly in order to win. Do not be scared to death when you encounter obstacles, disappointments, delays, sicknesses, pennilessness, etc.
"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." 
(James 1: 2 - 3).

Genuine faith must be tested by trials. So was the faith of Abraham and Mary and the faith of the great ones of Israel.  Why do you think that your faith should be different?

Jesus said to one of the Saints:
"I promise to be your strength in proportion to the trust you place on me."  This encourages me a lot and I respond: "Lord Jesus I trust in You. Increase my trust!"
When you surrender yourself,
"As your days, so shall your strength be."  (Deuteronomy 33: 25).

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Who are the Anawim ?

[Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums."  (Mark 12: 41)

"A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents."  (Mark 12: 43).

The Scripture of this Sunday,(1 Kings, Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel) focuses on the Anawim.   Who are the Anawim?  These are “the poor who depend on the Lord for deliverance.”  For survival! The Responsorial Psalm spells out who belong to this class:

"The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts....The LORD gives sight to the blind.  The LORD raises up those who were bowed down; The LORD loves the just.  The LORD protects strangers. " (Psalm 146: 7, 8 - 9 ).

"Elijah said to the widow of Zarephath , “Do not be afraid."  A familiar phrase of Jesus. God would provide fully for her and her son until the end of the drought.
"For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth." (1 Kings 17: 14).

What are we to make of today's message of the Holy Spirit on the Anawim?  A number of lessons come to mind:

#1. Do not forget the Anawim. They are special to Me.
#2.  I am a God who keeps faith forever.
#3.  Nobody can out do Me in generosity.
#4.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5: 3).
#5.  I am the Good Shepherd of all Mankind. It is not from chance your comfort springs. It is from My gracious ordaining.

Brothers and sisters, make a place for the Anawim in your heart and it shall be well with you.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

If you know these truths about money, you will be blessed.

"No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Luke 16:  13).

I need to hear the deep truths of the first Reading and the Gospel of today on money on my knees every day.  May God give us spiritual understanding and faith in these great teachings.  Help us to stand firm in these truths O Lord so that we may
know the protection of lasting peace.

Are you worried about money? Most of us are.  For many, money means security.  A word of wisdom says that "Man's security is Satan's opportunity."
Your extremity about money, not anxiety may often be God's opportunity to penetrate your mind and heart with healing truths on God's plan for your provision.

Whatever your life situation brothers and sisters, "Keep your lives free from love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never leave you, I will never abandon you'" (Hebrews 13:5).

For years, I have made the Scripture below my shortcut to the good life promised by Jesus in John 10: 10.

"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."  (Matthew 6: 33).

The appropriation of the divine promise in Matthew 6: 33 depends on obedience to the command in Matthew 6: 34.

"Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." (Matthew 6: 34).

God can never supply you the bread you will eat on November 10, 2020 today because you ask and are very anxious about it.

Even the great Teacher and Apostle Paul had to learn a few lessons on God's radical faithfulness in providing our needs:
"I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances.  I know also how to live with abundance."
(Philippians 4: 12).

In a few words, that is the lesson of Times and Seasons in God's order and governance of the world.
"In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need."   (Philippians 4: 12).

When you have learned the lesson well, you can dance for joy and exclaim:
"I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me."  (Philippians 4:   13).

Today is the Feast of a giant amongst priests:  St Leo the Great - Pope, Church Father and Doctor of the Church.
St Leo pray for us.

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

You are God’s Building.

"I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared like a bride adorned for her husband."  (Cf Revelation 21: 2).

The Church celebrates today the Dedication of the Basilica of St John Lateran, the Cathedral of Popes.  The beautiful readings in the Liturgy teaches us of the nature and destiny of the Church.  God chose to foreshadow for us
the heavenly Jerusalem
through the sign of His Church on earth and He calls His Church the Bride.  We the Bride are living and chosen stones from which God prepares an eternal dwelling for Himself.

Brothers and sisters, "You are God’s building." (1 Corinthians 3: 9).  And God is the wise Master Builder.  We are also the Temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
(1 Corinthians 3: 16).

Therefore beloved 1 Pt 2: 5
"Be built up like living stones,
into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood."  (1 Peter 2: 5).

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner.

"There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance."  (Luke 15: 7).

The Pharisees and the scribes were jealous because tax collectors and sinners were soaking up every word of the teaching of Jesus.  Their complaint was the occasion for the parable of the the Lost Sheep.  The politician understands that one vote counts.  Jesus is teaching the same lesson to His disciples.  One lost sinner is precious in the eyes of God.

There are so many lost sheep everywhere today. How do we help them to come home?  Consider the 7  Spiritual Works of Mercy:

1.Instruct the ignorant.
2.Counsel the doubtful.
3.Admonish sinners.
4.Bear wrongs patiently.
5.Forgive offences willingly.
6.Comfort the afflicted.
7.Pray for the living and the dead.

Ignorance is probably the key reason for people's alienation from God.  The truths below attest to this:

#1. "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."  (St Jerome).
#2.  "Ignorance of God is the principle and explanation of moral deviations." (CCC 2087).
#3.  Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God."  (Matthew 22: 29).
#4. "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief."  (1 Timothy 1: 13).
#5. "Ignorance nourishes vices and is the mother of all errors"
(St Isidore of Seville).
#6. "Brothers and sisters, I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;  darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart." (Ephesians 4: 17 - 18).

The New Evangelization is an ambitious program for lay people to evangelize, catechize and sacramentalize the lost sheep.   The first 3 Spiritual Works of Mercy is a good place to start:
1.Instruct the ignorant.
2.Counsel the doubtful.
3.Admonish sinners.

"There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance."  (Luke 15: 7).

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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The truth shall make you free and wise.

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."  (Luke 14: 27).

One thing is absolutely certain in the economy of salvation: Cross, Cross Cross!  Once you understand this truth, you can now enjoy the Journey of Faith.

Your cross might be health or tough love with regard to family or people you call friends. Are you called to renounce all your possessions?  Or to take a vow of celibacy or to the single life or infertility in conjugal union? Whatever is your sweet yoke, the word of God is most comforting in these verses:
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work."
(Philippians 2: 12 - 13).

After you are blessed with the understanding and acceptance of the truth, the Divine Scriptures encourage you every day to:
"Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!"  (Psalm 27: 14).

If you have absolute confidence in the promises of Jesus, those who are waiting for you to fail will never say:
"This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish."  (Luke 14:  30).

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Monday, November 05, 2018

They sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup.

 "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame." (Luke 14: 21).

Jesus was a guest at a dinner when He told the parable of guests invited to a sumptuous dinner by a man. That man is Jesus. That dinner is the Wedding of the Lamb.  Those invited were His friends, the baptized and supposedly redeemed.  Listen to their excuses for turning down the invitation:

"I have purchased a field and must go to examine it.... And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them... ‘I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come."  (Luke 14: 18 - 20).

Tell me if you are this King, what would you do?  Unfortunately, this parable plays out Sunday after Sunday across the world where the Prince of Peace summons His friends to the Eucharistic Feast and the invited guests turn down the invitation.

The judgment on the foolish guests is understandably severe.  Like Esau, they sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup. (Cf Genesis 25: 29 - 34).
"For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner."  (Luke 14: 24).

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Sunday, November 04, 2018

Weep my beloved Church!

"Complete my joy brothers and sisters by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing."  (Philippians 2: 2).

Church unity had been a big heartache for Peter and Paul and for all the successors of the  Fisherman throughout the centuries.  In 1054, there appeared a major crack in the unity of the Church between the Western and the Eastern Church.

Today's first Reading addresses the principal causes of Church disunity:
"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,  each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others."  (Philippians 2: 3 - 4).

The Lord Jesus left us in the Eucharist, Sacrament and Symbol of unity.
In the middle of the 16th century, the Church was splintered into Protestant and Catholic entities.  The Catholic Church representing the ancient Church and the Protestant branch further splintering to today's estimated 60,000 units.

The whole of the New Testament is full of shrill call for unity and warnings and anathemas against agents of disunity.  Paul warned the Roman Christians to put their house in order  "so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (Romans 15: 6).

"All the believers were one in heart and mind."  (Acts 4: 32).
This is the will of God for the Church.

The night before He died, Jesus prayed passionately to His Father:
"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."  (John 17: 21).

Brothers and sisters, pray for Church unity every day.

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Saturday, November 03, 2018

Fear the Lord your God.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 
(Mark 12: 30 - 31).

Why not? Should it be very hard to love Abba Father above everything?   Treating our neighbor exactly the way you want to be treated does not appear an impossible feat.

Below is God's standard in loving us:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self - seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always  trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
God wants us to apply this standard to our neighbor.

When we obey God and make Him the top priority in our universe, we enjoy a full and rich life.
"Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“Fear the LORD, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you, and thus have long life."  (Deuteronomy 6: 2).

Our response should be:
"I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer."  (Psalm 18: 2 - 3).

Do not be readers but doer of the word.
"Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my Father will love him and we will come to him." 
(John 14: 23).

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